10You are my witnesses–a declaration of YHWH–and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you might know and believe and understanding that I am he. No god was formed before me, and there will be none after me. — Isaiah 43:10
In Christian circles we tend to talk about witnessing as an option. Shall I go knock on doors or not? Shall I invite my neighbors to church? Should I talk to the person next to me on an airplane about Jesus? How many tracts should I hand out? But we always leave the option of not witnessing at all.
Our text today is addressed to Israel at the time of the exile. They are in Babylon, suffering the judgment of God. They are coming up on the time of redemption. Many of them were not such good witnesses, or at least we can guess they weren’t by the number who chose to assimilate and stay in Babylon. But God doesn’t say that they will be witnesses, or that they used to be witnesses. He says they are witnesses.
I think it is much the same with us. There are none of us who live in complete isolation from other people. People see how we live, how we act, whether we put our faith into action. They see us, often better than we see ourselves.
We are witnesses. There’s no way out. Today as you move around your workplace, you are a witness. As you drive and choose either to cut someone off or not, to speed or not, to be courteous, or not, you are a witness. You can’t help it. You just are.
We wonder why God would choose to work that way. I know that often I wish my witness was much better. I find myself repenting for not loving my neighbor as myself. I have to wonder about God’s strategy for his world when he would choose people like me as his witnesses!
Today I was reading an article on science education. You may wonder just how such an article could have to do with witnessing, but there was a statement in it that suddenly clicked with me. The author said that people don’t change their beliefs simply because you outline the facts to them. It’s a matter of repetition by different people in different circumstances. The author of the article suggested that science teachers pay more attention to the way the brain works. (Source. Note that the article does not intend to have anything to do with witnessing!).
Many of us think that witnessing involves convincing people through cogent and unanswerable arguments that we are right and they are wrong. But we all know the saying: A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still! Now there is a time and place to talk, and there is even a time and place for debate, though that is pretty rare, I think. But the witness God chose, the way he established to build his kingdom is you.
You are the evidence of God’s work in the world. You are a person touched by the grace of God, reflecting God’s grace and love in an imperfect world. Don’t sweat your imperfections. Do you think God is surprised by the fact that we fail? That is, after all, the reason we needed his grace in the first place!
And don’t be discouraged. It may be that you are just one way that God has ordained your family member, friend, co-worker, or â€œchanceâ€ encounter to hear about him. You just do your piece, and leave the rest to God.
And remember your part is simple: Just be a person touched by God’s grace. You are his witness!